HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite a developmental disability, Raynell Mole lives on her own.
And she deposits some of her earnings from her catering job into a special savings account called ABLE.
“The ABLE account is good to save money. That way I can buy things, spend money on rent first, the first thing you’re supposed to do,” she said.
The federal program allows disabled people to accrue savings above a $2,000 limit without losing benefits like Medicaid, SSI and SNAP.
The Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities estimates that about 122,000 people in Hawaii could qualify for an ABLE account. But only a handful have them, and those accounts are with mainland banks.
The state is now working on setting up an ABLE program.
Daintry Bartoldus, the council's executive administrator, expects more of Hawaii's disabled to open accounts once local banks are on board.
"To be able to have someplace local where they can come in and understand what their account is, where the balance is at, how to deposit more money into it and not have everything online could be very beneficial," she said.
Bathey Fong has an ABLE account on the mainland that helps her plan ahead.
"I'm saving money to have my own apartment and someday to get married have my own family," she said.
Kaili Swan wants to open an account and knows where his money would go.
"I spend it on stuff that I needed like clothes, food, toiletries," he said.
ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. To qualify, a person’s disability has to have occurred before age 26.
Mole uses her ABLE savings money to cover expenses that improve her quality of life.
“It’s very important,” she said.